Best Southwest Credit Cards

Southwest Airlines is known for its friendly employees, economical pricing, and lack of assigned seats. The airlines’ unique business model attracts its fair share of zealous fan, who are the perfect candidates for one of several Southwest Airlines credit cards.best southwest credit cards

While it’s not the largest airline out there, Southwest is particularly popular among Millennials because of its free checked bag allowances and practical cancellation policies.

Many Millennials buy one-way Southwest flights for potential trips when they see prices dip. There’s no pressure because, if plans change, flights can always be returned for airline credit.

So, we know that Southwest knows how to brand themselves for Millennial travelers, but do they offer good credit cards?

Southwest has three co-branded consumer credit cards and two business cards. Each offers travel rewards, anniversary points, and the coveted companion pass, which lets you bring a friend for free with your paid ticket after meeting certain requirements.

But how do you know which of Southwest’s five credit cards is right for you? Here’s our list of the best Southwest credit cards – how they are alike, and how they are different.

Which Southwest Credit Card Is Best?

No matter what Southwest credit card you go with, each comes with one of our favorite features: Anniversary Points!

Every year on your Southwest anniversary, you’ll be gifted a set amount of points. Think of it as a birthday card from Mom, but with wings.

Another great feature to note is that all but one Southwest credit card has a 0% foreign transaction fee: the Rapid Rewards Plus credit card.

We appreciate that Southwest knows its audience and makes 0% foreign transaction fees a readily available feature – after all, it’s an airline, and its customers like to travel.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive into the best Southwest credit cards and get you traveling!

Best Southwest Personal Credit Cards

  1. Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
  2. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
  3. Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Best Southwest Business Credit Cards

  1. Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
  2. Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Southwest Personal Credit Cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
  • 40,000 Rapid Reward Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $149
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn 40,000 in Rapid Reward Points after spending $1,000 in your first three months. Earn an additional 20,000 points after spending $12,000 in your first year.
  • Anniversary Points: 7,500
  • Rewards Earning: 2X points on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards partner hotels and car rentals. 1X points on all other spendings.
  • Distinguishing features: Receive an annual $75 Southwest travel credit, and earn points to bump you up to the A-list. Enjoy four upgraded boardings per year, when seating is available (worth $50 each). 20% of all spending on in-flight drinks and wi-fi will be credited back to your account.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • 40,000 Rapid Reward Points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn 40,000 in Rapid Reward Points after spending $1,000 in your first three months. Earn an additional 20,000 points after spending $12,000 in your first year.
  • Anniversary Points: 6,000
  • Rewards Earning: 2X points on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards partner hotels and car rentals. 1X points on all other spendings.
  • Distinguishing features: Earn points to bump you up to the A-list.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
  • earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $69
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn 40,000 in Rapid Reward Points after spending $1,000 in your first three months. Earn an additional 20,000 points after spending $12,000 in your first year.
  • Anniversary Points: 3,000
  • Rewards Earning: 2X points on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards partner hotels and car rentals. 1X points on all other spendings.
  • Distinguishing features: 3% foreign transaction fee.

 

Southwest Business Credit Cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
  • 70,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $199
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn 70,000 in Rapid Reward Points after spending $5,000 in your first three months.
  • Anniversary Points: 9,000
  • Rewards Earning: 3X points on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards partner hotels and car rentals. 2X points on social media and search engine advertising. 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services. 1X points on all other spendings.
  • Distinguishing features: Receive an annual $100 Global TSA PreCheck application reimbursement, plus four upgraded boardings per year, when available. Earn points to bump you up to the A-list, and take advantage of in-flight wi-fi credits. 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
  • 60,000 Rapid Reward Points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Annual Fee: $99
  • Welcome Bonus: Earn 60,000 in Rapid Reward Points after spending $3,000 in your first three months.
  • Anniversary Points: 6,000
  • Rewards Earning: 2X points on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards partner hotels and car rentals. 1X points on all other spendings.
  • Distinguishing features: Earn points to bump you up to the A-list.

 

How do I choose the best Southwest Credit Card?

The first question you’ll want to ask yourself is whether you plan on using your card for personal or business use.

Businesses have different spending needs than most individuals, and Southwest accommodates both. Typically, since businesses tend to spend more than the average individual, they come with higher reward earnings, as we see with the Rapid Rewards Premier Business card.

Additionally, if your business relies on considerable digital marketing, you’re unlikely to see many other cards that deliver such great value as Southwest’s top-of-the-line business card.

If you’re looking for an individual consumer card, the first thing to consider is how often you fly. If traveling is a lifestyle, it is likely worth the $149 annual fee for the Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card.

The $75 annual travel credit cuts the annual fee in half automatically, plus the upgraded seats and priority boarding make a difference when your life is spent at the airport.

With a lot of travel, it is easy to forget to plan ahead, and sometimes you just have to eat on the go. When you do, it’s nice to know you’re earning 20% of your in-flight spending back.

How do I earn the Southwest Companion Pass?

The Southwest Companion Pass — otherwise known as the Holy Grail of Southwest’s travel rewards – lets you pick a friend or family member to travel with you for free on all of your Southwest flights, whether paid for or awarded. They’ll only need to pay for their taxes and fees.

To earn the Companion Pass privilege, you must reach 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a year.

This equates to 100 one-way flights or 50 round trip flights. But remember that your sign up bonuses do count towards your Companion Pass, too. An individual could be nearly halfway there after earning their 40,000 bonus points.

Is a Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card worth it?

In strict dollar values, the Southwest Rapid Reward points are valued at 1-1.5 cents per point. Taking this into consideration, Southwest’s signup bonuses have a value range of $400 to $1,200, depending on your option.

But while many people sign up for credit cards simply to use the welcome bonus and close them, signing up for a co-branded loyalty card is a little different. You’re likely not going to get the most value out of your Southwest Credit Card unless you are a true Southwest customer.

That’s because many of the rewards, like the anniversary bonus, upgraded seating, and companion pass, are only going to be valuable to you when you fly Southwest.

That said, it’s worth keeping in mind that Southwest Rapid Reward points can be applied towards partner hotels and car rentals, but so can the rewards of many other credit cards.

Another thing to take into consideration is that Southwest Rapid Rewards points cannot be redeemed for special fares like senior, infant, military, and government. They also cannot be used to pay for Southwest amenities like pet fees, extra bags, and unaccompanied minors.

On the bright side, there are no blackout dates for fares booked with Wanna Get Away, Anytime, and Business Select fares.

Bottom line: If you are a Southwest loyalist and don’t benefit from other kinds of special fares or discounts, we say sign up for one of the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards and getaway!

David Weliver

David Weliver

David Weliver is the Credit Cards Editor at Millennial Money. He is the Founder of Money Under 30 and is widely regarded as one of the top credit card rewards experts in the world. David has been writing about personal finance and credit cards since 2006 and been featured in The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and many others.
David Weliver

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